Which laptop?

Smileyguy

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Original poster
Nov 29, 2004
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Hey, I'm thinking of getting a laptop for Christmas. I have a G5 home at home, so all I need my laptop for is word processing and quick & efficient wirless surfing with decent download speeds. I really only need this to last for a year, as I'll probably be upgrading both my desktop and portable machine once the intel macs have been revised a few times (maybe a year from now).

As for screen size, well I haven't tried them out so I can't make a judgement. My head tells me 12' is a bit small, but I might be wrong.

Would a secondhand G3 iBook do the job, or should I go for a secondhand G4 one, or even a new one? I'm a bit clueless about the whole wireless thing, as even though I've been using macs for ten years I've never used wirless computing before.

So to recap:

- Need laptop for word processing and quick wirelss net
- Download a lot of word files
- Only need machine to be 'good' for a year or two at most
- Willing to buy secondhand, want something as cheap as possible


Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

FocusAndEarnIt

macrumors 601
May 29, 2005
4,321
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Refurb on the Apple Store says $720 for a refurb combo 1.2 iBook or a $699 1.2 iBook cd rom.

IMO, I would get the $720 refurb iBook 12".

Comes with apple care and all that good stuff.
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,194
6
Adelaide, Australia
Get your hands on a 12 inch iBook to see just how small/big the screen is. It's more than manageable for me but I have pretty good eyesight. If it's inadequate, look into a 14 inch iBook but remember that the screen resolution will be the same. The only difference is everything is stretched over a larger area (without looking stretched though).

If possible, get a G4 iBook (new or used). The G3s had trouble with reliability and even though a later one will meet your needs performance-wise, the G4 was quite a step forward (in terms of iBooks at least). I'd aim for one of the original G4 iBooks for the best compromise of performance to dollar. These didn't come standard with wireless technology built in but most were ordered with the AirPort Extreme card (802.11G or wireless card). The G3 iBooks only had regular AirPort which isn't manufactured anymore (read: expensive to find second hand) and roughly five times slower.

With this laptop you'll need a base station which plugs into your router or modem and distributes the internet wirelessly to your iBook. The Apple options (AirPort, AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express) are expensive so most people will tell you to go with a third party company such as Linksys. Since wireless technology is built upon standards and these are relatively strictly adhered to, your iBook will work just fine with any third party 802.11B or 802.11G router.

In short, aim for a used original G4 iBook (14 or 12 inch) with an AirPort Extreme card (may have to purchase separately, but can be bought new from Apple if desired) and a wireless base station. :)
 

Smileyguy

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Original poster
Nov 29, 2004
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About this wirelss base station, I presume this will allow me to use wirless at home? What about in Uni for example, where they have their own wirless set up? I presume I won't need to be dragging it around college?!
 

mad jew

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Apr 3, 2004
32,194
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Adelaide, Australia
Uni will probably have its own wireless base stations so you probably won't be taking it anywhere. When you say college, do you mean you'll be staying in a dorm? There may only be hard wired internet connection in the dorm and usually you're not allowed to connect your own base station to that hard wired connection. Of course, this changes from uni to uni, college to college.
 

mcadam

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Apr 3, 2004
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københavn
For word-documents, surfing and cheap - definately go for the 12" iBook. It's thee nicest little handy laptop. A design classic imho. The screen size is only a problem if you do some kind of drawing on it. Or games and/or movie watching...

A
 

Smileyguy

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Original poster
Nov 29, 2004
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mad jew said:
Uni will probably have its own wireless base stations so you probably won't be taking it anywhere. When you say college, do you mean you'll be staying in a dorm? There may only be hard wired internet connection in the dorm and usually you're not allowed to connect your own base station to that hard wired connection. Of course, this changes from uni to uni, college to college.
No, I don't live on campus, I just want to be able to use wireless net there. The 12' iBook seems to be the most frequent suggestion, but I'd really like to go for something cheaper. The probably with getting something from the Apple Refurb store is that I live in Ireland, and we don't have one.

Could anyone suggest a good website or reputable eBay seller for refurbished iBooks?
 

mad jew

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Apr 3, 2004
32,194
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Adelaide, Australia
Smileyguy said:
No, I don't live on campus, I just want to be able to use wireless net there.

If they have wireless networking, then you won't need your base station. At my uni, I simply open up the latch on my iBook and it automatically connects to the network. It's that simple. :)


Smileyguy said:
The 12' iBook seems to be the most frequent suggestion, but I'd really like to go for something cheaper.

The 12 inch iBook is the cheapest Mac laptop you'll find. Remember that they've been making them for ages though so the ones in the Refurb Store are pretty new/up-to-date. I'd personally go for the 800MHz G4 original Rev A iBook, it'll be much cheaper. I've got one and it's an awesome little machine. :)


Smileyguy said:
Could anyone suggest a good website or reputable eBay seller for refurbished iBooks?

It might be easier if you find something you like on eBay and then post back with details and someone can tell you if it looks like good value. I don't quite know where you live but I'm pretty sure it's not Australia so I really won't be very useful on that front. :eek:
 

Smileyguy

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Original poster
Nov 29, 2004
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Would there be any significant advantage to buying a refurbished G4 Powerbook ahead of an iBook?
 

mad jew

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Apr 3, 2004
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Smileyguy said:
Would there be any significant advantage to buying a refurbished G4 Powerbook ahead of an iBook?

Not for your usage. You'll get a slightly faster computer, a better GPU and some extra features (depending on the model). Are you looking at getting something with a bigger screen?
 

Smileyguy

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Original poster
Nov 29, 2004
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To be honest I'm not sure. I want to test out the various screen sizes before I make a decision. To me, 12' sounds a bit on the small side, but I might be wrong.

If I go for a refurb. 14' iBook, what ghz and RAM numbers should I be looking for as a minimum?
 

mad jew

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Apr 3, 2004
32,194
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Adelaide, Australia
Smileyguy said:
If I go for a refurb. 14' iBook, what ghz and RAM numbers should I be looking for as a minimum?

Ideally, the 14 inch iBook would have at least 933MHz (any G4 one in other words) and 512MB of RAM plus would be great. No matter what the machine, 512MB really should be the minimum.

Don't forget to keep an eye out as to whether it has AirPort Extreme too. All newer Mac laptops have it but some of the older ones don't and it'll cost you extra to get a card (obviously). :)

Maybe go to a store or reseller nearby just to see what you think.
 

xy14

macrumors 6502
Mar 9, 2004
294
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Minneapolis
Smileyguy said:
No, I don't live on campus, I just want to be able to use wireless net there. The 12' iBook seems to be the most frequent suggestion, but I'd really like to go for something cheaper. The probably with getting something from the Apple Refurb store is that I live in Ireland, and we don't have one.

Could anyone suggest a good website or reputable eBay seller for refurbished iBooks?
I thought the ireland store had it, but only on wednesdays.
 

Bad_JuJu

macrumors member
Apr 17, 2005
57
0
North of Kalifornia
As an ex-Intel designer I'll give you my 2 cents -

Bottom line is the Intel mobile architecture is one of the most advanced when it comes to mobile processing AND power consumpion. I believe this is why Apple has chosen laptops as some of the first systems they will produce in '06 using the Intel arch.

I've got a new 12" PB - love it - the screen is fine for quick jobs etc. - but the battery life is pathetic when compared to any x86 laptop - esp the newer ones.

My advice - if you need a laptop for occasional use - buy a used or refurb unit and wait for the new machines before plunking down $$

As to desktops (G4/G5) my advice is keep buying - there are less differences in that area - in fact I just ordered a new iMac :cool:
 

Smileyguy

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 29, 2004
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Thanks for all the advice - I am always amazed at how folks on these forums can keep answering the same questions over over again. It's what makes the place so helpful and popular.

I have a couple more questions I'd like ask. As I said, I'm only looking for a machine for word processing and wireless internet. Now, While I had orignally planned to go with an early rev on the 14' G4 iBook, I'm now starting to explore some other options.

- A refurblished 12' Powerbook. For example, I've seen a 667Mhz g4 machine on Macofalltrades.
- A 12' iBook.

Firstly, the 12' screen. Having seen 12' iBooks but never really used one, I have to say they like tiny. Is the screen size a problem? Is it like looking through a pinhole?

Second, the speed. Would something like a 667Mhz G4 do the job I'm looking for it to do?

Thirdly, if airport is not included with the laptop, how much does it generally cost to buy seperately?

Thanks,

Lenny
 

mad jew

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Apr 3, 2004
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Adelaide, Australia
Smileyguy said:
Firstly, the 12' screen. Having seen 12' iBooks but never really used one, I have to say they like tiny. Is the screen size a problem? Is it like looking through a pinhole?

I have a 12 inch screen and have used it as my main computer for up to about a year and a half with no problems. I don't do any Photoshop or much video work though. I'd say 12 inches is fine for most people. :)


Smileyguy said:
Second, the speed. Would something like a 667Mhz G4 do the job I'm looking for it to do?

667MHz is getting quite slow now. That 12 inch iBook I was talking about is is an 800MHz G4 and I wouldn't want to go too far below that if possible. Of course, the 667MHz G4 will handle most things you could throw at it but aim higher.


Smileyguy said:
Thirdly, if airport is not included with the laptop, how much does it generally cost to buy seperately?

AirPort Extreme is still being made by Apple so you can buy it new from them or second hand relatively cheaply (US$79). However, that older PowerBook you're looking at has a regular AirPort card AFAIK (as do all pre-G4 iBooks) which has been out of production for quite some time. Your only option for them is to go used which can be expensive (simple economics, small supply-side problem).

In short, I think a used original G4 iBook (12 inch) would suite your needs perfectly. :)
 

slooksterPSV

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Apr 17, 2004
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Seeing the 15 and 17" PB's I could never use one of those. The iBook just fits right. I thought the screens were tiny compared to them being next to other ones, but actually the screen is not a problem. Just one thing though, when you first buy it, the screen will look grainy, mine did, but after I used it for a while (a day or 2) the grainyness goes away. I think it just has to melt the LCD crystals or heat them up so it doesn't look grainy, but seriously, I love the 12". Have you seen the 9" Toshiba or is it Acer ones? Those are tiny now. It's nice and compact. It's light, so its easy to carry around. I'd suggest really take a good look at the 12" at like CompUSA or the AppleStore. It's not as tiny as you think. I say get a new one, cause you never know when that extra processing power may come in handy or never know when you want to just take it cause you can't carry the PMG5 around. You'll love it if you purchase a new one. If not check out http://www.techrestore.com/ or others on this forum for a used one, but I can garuntee you, you will not regret a new one.
 

PCMacUser

macrumors 68000
Jan 13, 2005
1,690
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Yeah, the 12" iBook is no problem for screen size in my opinion. But my other laptop has an 8.9" screen and weighs 800g, so of course the iBook seems HUGE (I'll have to post a pic sometime just to give you all a laugh). My iBook arrived on Friday, and so far I like it more than I liked the 15" Powerbook. With 1.5gb RAM it seems to be quite happy, and it's INCREDIBLY quiet :) The iBook's slot loading drive is less crunchy sounding than the Powerbook's too. And it doesn't get as hot. Did I mention I like it? ;)
 

balamw

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Aug 16, 2005
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mad jew said:
All newer Mac laptops have it but some of the older ones don't and it'll cost you extra to get a card (obviously). :)
I have the 14" 1.33 GHz iBook G4 (last rev). I love it, but would definitely buy a 12" current instead of a refurb 14" for the reason mad jew points out. The new one will come with lots of stuff included that you may well have to add if you got the refurb. RAM. Airport Extreme. USB 2.0. Combo Drive. Tiger. CoreImage support. iLife '05. All excellent reasons to buy the current 12", over a refurb or used 14".

Two reasons to buy a 14":
Superdrive.
Collaboration.(The larger screen is useful if you want to show someone else something on it, but for solitary use, 12" and 14" at the same resolution are pretty much equivalent, IMHO).

EDIT: Tiger and iLife are on the refurbs from Apple, but a case in point is the 14" I have for $899 refurbished only has 256 MB RAM, but the new 12" has the same CPU with 512MB standard. Only other difference is 40GB vs 60GB drives. IMHO the added portability and faster/better supported video card are worth the extra $50 for the 12".

B
 

slooksterPSV

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Apr 17, 2004
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balamw said:
I have the 14" 1.33 GHz iBook G4 (last rev). I love it, but would definitely buy a 12" current instead of a refurb 14" for the reason mad jew points out. The new one will come with lots of stuff included that you may well have to add if you got the refurb. RAM. Airport Extreme. USB 2.0. Combo Drive. Tiger. CoreImage support. iLife '05. All excellent reasons to buy the current 12", over a refurb or used 14".

Two reasons to buy a 14":
Superdrive.
Collaboration.(The larger screen is useful if you want to show someone else something on it, but for solitary use, 12" and 14" at the same resolution are pretty much equivalent, IMHO).

EDIT: Tiger and iLife are on the refurbs from Apple, but a case in point is the 14" I have for $899 refurbished only has 256 MB RAM, but the new 12" has the same CPU with 512MB standard. Only other difference is 40GB vs 60GB drives. IMHO the added portability and faster/better supported video card are worth the extra $50 for the 12".

B
Now I've got to point something out, as a proud iBook owner I know that my iBook supports Core-Image. Here's my question, why does everyone think that the latest revision doesn't support Core-Image? It does and it fully supports it, that's that. I had to change a Mac Guide cause it said that it didn't support Core-Image like the Ripple effect Dashboard puts out.
 

mad jew

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Apr 3, 2004
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I don't mean to be presumptuous, but I think balamw realises this. The point is that older iBooks (like mine) do not have GPUs that support core image, for what it's worth. :)
 

slooksterPSV

macrumors 68040
Apr 17, 2004
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mad jew said:
I don't mean to be presumptuous, but I think balamw realises this. The point is that older iBooks (like mine) do not have GPUs that support core image, for what it's worth. :)
Curious to see if anyone knew why. I think its because of that small word Mobility
 

Abstract

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Dec 27, 2002
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Forget all this other junk. Your needs are so simple that you're thinking about this too hard. You're also not going to be using it for a long time.

Any iBook will do what you want, even if its a 12" iBook G3 800 MHz or something. If you want a 12" G4 iBook, get an 800 MHz, as it's probably more tolerable. All this stuff about superdrives, Core Image, screen size, etc...... isn't an issue. Unless you have poor sight, you'll be able to see things on a 12" screen just fine. The text on the 12" screen may actually be larger than it is on a 15" PB because of the difference in resolution, and people seem to be fine using either machine, so don't worry.

- A refurblished 12' Powerbook. For example, I've seen a 667Mhz g4 machine on Macofalltrades.
There's no such thing as a 12" 667 MHz PowerBook. The slowest 12" PB ever was an 867 MHz G4.

Get an iBook over an older PB for your needs because the iBook has better battery life and better wireless reception. Don't worry about CPU speed as long as it's a G4 and faster than 800MHz. If you can get an 800 MHz iBook G4, then get it. Otherwise, a G3 iBook isn't horrible for what you want to do.